Category Archives: Sustainable Development

Building services can help everyone be lean, mean and green

Martin Fahey Head of Sustainability and Commercial Business at Mitsubishi Electric looks at how the building services industry can help us all be energy efficient.

#TheHubME

It may seem strange for a manufacturer of heating, cooling, ventilation and controls to say to its customers “use less equipment”, but that is exactly the message that Mitsubishi Electric is urging everyone involved in the built environment to take on board.

The Green Gateway philosophy asks everyone involved in the industry, from architects, consultants, specifiers, installers, facilities managers, building owners and individual households to ‘Do the right thing’ with regards to energy use by adopting a ‘Lean, Mean and Green’ approach.

We need to work together to do this because buildings currently account for around half all UK greenhouse emissions, which is more than both industry and transport.  It is therefore clear where the challenge lies and our industry can have a significant role to play in helping the country meet the ambitious carbon reduction targets that have been set.

Read the full article here: https://thehub.mitsubishielectric.co.uk

 

New Technical Brochure for Optigreen

Optigreen, the specialist green roof systems supplier, have released an updated version of their fully comprehensive Technical Brochure.

Green roof systems

Consisting of 96 pages, the brochure combines basic and specialist knowledge of roof greening and gives safe and approved solutions in accordance with GRO and FLL Green Roofing Guidelines.

Each green roof system solution is presented with the most relevant data, system build-ups, accessory products and a brief description.

The brochure also includes some new Optigreen products and system solutions for blue roofs, pitched roofs and roof planters.

Webcodes included in the new brochure, mean you will always be able to access up to date information on all our optimised products and systems through our website www.optigreen.co.uk. The online version of the continuously updated brochure has interactive features and links to further information and services.

To request a free copy of the new Optigreen technical brochure, please contact info@optigreen.co.uk

Metsä Wood launches ‘Open Source Wood’

A pioneering open innovation project to accelerate growth in large scale wood construction.

Metsä Wood’s Open Source Wood initiative is a call to action to architects, designers and engineers to join forces, share innovation and contribute knowledge about large-scale, modular wood construction. By creating an open innovation platform around modular wood construction, Metsä Wood’s aim is to connect the local wood construction industry with global knowledge to facilitate collaboration and growth.

Metsa Wood

Today the construction industry is dominated by two materials – steel and concrete. Only a fraction (5-10%) of global urban construction is wood, due in part to the fact that the industry is fragmented and local. Wood, however, is an optimal material for urban construction as it enables faster building processes; its lightness leads to more affordable structures and it is the most environmentally friendly building material, battling climate change through carbon storage.

Metsa Wood

Metsä Wood’s Executive Vice President, Esa Kaikkonen, explains: “Not enough knowledge about modular wood design and building is shared, so wood construction remains niche. There is plenty of innovation but it is difficult to find, so Open Source Wood is our solution. We believe that with open collaboration the industry can achieve significant growth.”

Inspired by open source ideology

The initiative takes its inspiration from open source ideology, championed by the software industry, to drive innovation further and faster, and to increase speed to market.

Metsä Wood is taking the first step by sharing its own intellectual property for modular Kerto® LVL wood elements, making them available freely for everyone.

Metsä Wood to award €30,000 prize

Additionally, Metsä Wood will award innovation in modular element design by offering 30k euro in prize money during 2017 to exceptional designs, submitted as part of the initiative, using its Kerto LVL material.

By 2050, approximately 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas. This means that we need living space for billions. At the same time, cities contribute to up to 70% of the total greenhouse gas emissions and we need to fight climate change. One way to fight climate change is to make construction more sustainable and that’s possible when building with wood on a global scale.

Eric Karsh, an engineer at Vancouver-based Equilibrium Consulting, adds: “We fundamentally need to challenge the way we build. Timber technology is now progressing so fast that knowledge transfer is often the bottleneck. Those of us who have expertise have a responsibility to share, and the fastest way is an open source approach promoting knowledge and innovation from all corners of the world. That’s why Metsä Wood is launching the initiative and makes the first step in giving away knowledge and intellectual property for prefabricated elements, allowing systematic creativity and efficiency in building.”

Open Source Wood is a continuation of Metsä Wood’s project Plan B, launched in 2015 as an ambitious blueprint to explore the possibilities of using wood in urban construction.

Learn more about Open Source Wood and how you can participate: www.metsawood.com/opensourcewood

Join the initiative.Metsa Wood

Contact: opensourcewood@metsagroup.com

www.metsawood.com/uk/

 

Redland Craftsman Albury crowns eco-home with period twist

As experienced self-builders Richard and Jo Collings had high standards for their final project – a four-bedroomed energy efficient house in rural Warwickshire – so they chose the Albury tile from the Rosemary Clay Craftsman range developed by Redland, the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of pitched roof systems.

clay roof tiles

“We’re in a conservation area, so we had to be careful what we chose, and we really liked the look of these tiles. We’ve had a lot of compliments and the planners were happy as they stipulated that it should be ‘of a pleasing design’ and “not jar”, says Mrs Collings.

The planners at Stratford District Council were concerned not simply because the house was in a conservation area, but also because it would be next to a historic church, parts of which date back to Norman times.

“We reckoned it would take two years in all, a year to get planning and a year to build”, says Mrs Collings. “And we were right overall but it took 14 months to get the planning permission”. The new home replaces a 1960s bungalow and its roof now complements that of the recently re-roofed church.

Mr and Mrs Collings are experienced in running construction projects, having previously built their own factory unit and refurbished a historic cottage, and so designed the house themselves, using a local surveyor, Paul Upfield, to draw up the plans to gain planning permission. Among the eco-friendly features are a heat recovery system in the roof that extracts heat from outgoing air to heat incoming fresh air and a ground source heat pump that draws heat from 85 metres below ground. “It’s been very satisfying and we’ve had a great sense of achievement but we won’t be doing this again. They’ll take us out in a box”, Mrs Collings jokes.

The Albury tile is one of three tiles in the Rosemary Clay Craftsman range and, in common with the Hawkhurst tile, has a fine orange-red sanding over the surface and random black patterning to recreate a weathered look. The latest addition to the range, Victorian, has a darker and grittier texture to give roofs a greater depth of texture and character. All three tiles are versatile and can be laid on a variety of roof configurations, as there is a full range of compatible fittings and accessories.

clay roof tiles

Combining the look and feel of an aged handmade tile with 21st century performance, the Rosemary Clay Craftsman range has textured surfaces, irregular distortions to the front edge and varying hanging lengths.

Although the Rosemary Clay Craftsman looks like a reclaimed tile, it meets all the requirements ofBS5534: 2014 Code of Practice for Slating and Tiling – providing Redland fixing recommendations are followed. Redland engineers have subjected the tile to driving winds and high rains in the Group’s wind tunnel in a set of rigorous tests to ensure that it meets or exceeds current standards. Visit www.redland.co.uk/craftsman for more details.

www.redland.co.uk

 

The Green Eyed Monster

Open any trade magazine or visit supplier websites and you will find numerous articles and products offering exceptional ‘green’ credentials.  Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the glass and glazing industry as each manufacturer attempts to outperform the next by offering astounding figures for thermal performance.

What is surprising however, is the regular use of terms such as ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘green’ simply because a product offers a low u-value.  As more buildings are constructed to Passivhaus standards there appears to be a blurring of the lines between what is good for the environment and what is thermally efficient.  Whilst there is no doubt that increased thermal efficiency contributes to a reduction in burning of fossil fuels; this alone should not be the deciding factor in whether a product is actually environmentally friendly.

The majority of flat rooflights on the market today are manufactured from either PVC or aluminium and both of these require an exceptional amount of energy to produce and extract a lot of resources from the planet without putting anything back.

rooflight

While most companies will adopt some sort of environmental policy, telling customers that their products use a percentage of recycled material, this is more likely to be about cost rather than any real environmental intentions.  After all recyclables are recycled because it is the cheapest available option and it makes more financial sense to do so rather than to send them to a landfill – with Landfill tax currently over £84 per tonne, plus the gate fee on top.

It stands to reason that consuming vast amounts of natural resources to produce the raw materials of a product negates the environmental benefits further down the chain, regardless of what the product becomes.  This has often been overlooked in the rooflight industry because of the low maintenance and long life that aluminium and PVC can offer the end user.  For decades these two materials have been unrivalled and it was widely accepted that flat rooflights should be manufactured from one of these materials; until now.

There is now a real alternative in the flat rooflight market that not only offers exceptional thermal performance, but is also a genuine environmentally friendly product in every sense.  The Lumen Planus is manufactured in the UK using Accoya® wood which is a material that has been thoroughly tested for dimensional stability, durability, paint retention and in-ground conditions to ensure optimal performance.  It offers a new standard in high performance, sustainable and low maintenance applications.

In addition to the outstanding performance, Accoya® wood is one of the very few building products to have acquired Cradle to CradleSM Certification on the elusive Gold level. Cradle to Cradle (C2C) provides a means to tangibly and credibly measure achievement in environmentally-intelligent design including the use of environmentally safe and healthy materials and instituting strategies for social responsibility.

A carbon footprint assessment was executed for Accoya® wood by Verco in line with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and World Resources Institute’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Protocol best practice guidelines, based on a cradle to factory gate scenario. This includes sourcing, harvesting and processing of the input timber, as well as all energy and raw material consumption and waste production. The results are shown in the graph below.

rooflight

Today there are some exceptional flat rooflight products available for specifiers to choose from.  It is a fact that both aluminium and PVC are very good at providing superb thermal performance and that modern technology has reduced the end of life environmental impact.  That said, if your project requires a truly environmentally friendly product then Accoya® provides compelling environmental advantages in every stage of the life cycle.

For more information on the right products for your project information contact Lumen Rooflight on 0330 300 1090, email info@lumenrooflight.co.uk or visit www.lumenrooflight.com

Why Hotels should specify Living Walls to communicate Green Credentials?

Hotels across the UK have some great environmental and social initiatives in place, but how do they tell their customers about them?  Many sustainability and green messages fall by the wayside – lost in the standard paperwork of the hotel experience – menus, do not disturb signs and in-house print.Living WallsWhat better way to improve customer experience and communicate the green message than by installing living walls?  Green Walls offer a bold design method to differentiate your property from your competitors.  Both interior and exterior applications of Living Walls improve acoustics, air quality, biodiversity and the urban heat island effect – all packed with a punch of beautiful green aesthetics to inspire any customer to think GREEN.  The additional and proven benefits of incorporating living walls to reduce stress and enhance relaxation will ensure that guests enjoy their hotel experience that bit more.Living WallsThe wow factor of a living wall would also be a great starting point for customer engagement.  We can monitor water use, explain why plant species are selected for biodiversity and to support pollinators, explain the thermal benefits of the living wall to the building and how this creates energy efficiency (supported by our own detailed research into the Thermal Benefits of living walls) –  the discussion points are extensive.Living WallsSo which of the UK’s hotels have adopted the living wall trend?  Famously the Athenaeum on London’s Picadilly sports the famous Patrik Blanc living wall – one of the first installed in London.  The Rubens Hotel in Victoria is adorned with one of London’s largest living walls to improve air quality, the Scotscape team were sub-contracted to apply our experience to constructing this wall.  The St James Hotel in Central London, The Bedford Hotel in Holborn, Moxhull Hall Hotel in the West Country – the list goes on.  These smart hoteliers know that living walls are good news for telling their customers that they care about people and the environment , meaning that they are also likely to care about all aspects of hotel service.Living WallsAll industries have an obligation to communicate the green message – what better way to do so than a Living Wall?

https://www.scotscape.net/

Mark this renewable day in your diary and celebrate

by Russell Jones ~ Communications Manager at Mitsubishi Electric

Russell Jones asks whether a whole day of electricity produced without burning a single lump of coal spells out the end of an era for the nation.

Last Friday, 21st April 2017 was a very special day for the UK as the country generated a whole day of electricity without needing to use coal-fired power stations.

This landmark moment is the first working day in since 1882, when the first public coal-fired generating plant opened in London when no coal has been needed to help supply power to the nation – as reported by many news outlets such as the BBC and the Financial Times.

Whilst low demand for electricity in the week after the Easter holiday is quite normal and Friday’s are the day of the working week with the lowest power demand, this move away from what has been a bedrock of the UK’s energy production since the start of the industrial revolution is a real achievement.

This shows how the nation’s energy system is changing to embrace low-carbon electricity production through the use of nuclear, solar panels, wind turbines and a switch from coal to biomass and gas-powered stations.

In 2016, the government reported that it was working to phase out the last coal plants by 2025 in an effort to cut overall carbon emissions.

As we move towards low carbon power generation, renewable technologies such as air source heat pumps become even more viable and attractive.

So it looks like we are really starting to see a greening of the electricity grid which is tremendous news for renewable technologies such as heat pumps, which consume electricity but use it to maximise renewable heating for our homes.

Earlier this year, we produced an infographic looking at the history of home heating so I’m delighted to see that we are starting to enter the last phase of that and set the scene for a low-carbon power generating grid, feeding low-carbon heating systems – all of which will help minimise energy bills for homeowners and aid the country as we strive to meet stringent carbon reduction targets.

We look forward to discussing this more on The Hub over the next few years as we strive to move towards a truly zero-carbon society.

At Mitsubishi Electric, we also love to discuss this topic over on our Green Gateway Twitter page, so please join the conversation.

Russell Jones is PR & Communications Manager for Mitsubishi Electric Living Environment Systems in the UK.

If you have any questions about this article or want to know more, please email us. We will contact the author and will get back to you as soon as we can.

https://thehub.mitsubishielectric.co.uk

H+H and SIG Offsite collaboration helps meet housing demand

Celcon Elements

In a unique collaboration, H+H UK Ltd and SIG Offsite have worked together to create the SIG I-House – an innovative housebuilding system incorporating Celcon Elements from H+H. 

The SIG I-House provides all the speed of offsite construction with the familiarity of a traditional build, from foundations to roof in just five days.

The system can encompass the inner leaves of external cavity walls, floors, lintel, cavity closers, insulation and roof trusses. With the inclusion of soffit and fascia, the system delivers the internal skin of a property, fully wrapped and ready for follow-on trades.

Created at a time when there is a demand to increase the volume of house building and when skilled workers are in short supply, the system is a one stop shop for clients – with a single contractor required to deliver the whole house shell.

The system is intended for the construction of domestic houses of up to two storey height, replacing the structure of the inner leaf of external cavity walls, separating walls and internal partitions with storey height Celcon Elements.

Installed by the SIG Offsite team, Celcon Elements are craned into place and fixed using H+H element mortar.  Timber I-Joist cassette floors are used in conjunction with the system to maintain the speed of build and roofs are either standard truss construction or the ‘Roofspace I-Roof’ – panelised roof system.  All components are raised into position by crane.

Celcon Elements are manufactured from the same intrinsic material as aircrete blocks and have the same performance advantages including excellent thermal performance with reduced heat loss at thermal bridges.

https://www.hhcelcon.co.uk

The history of home heating and the rise of renewables

Article by Ellina Webb ~ Marketing Specialist at Mitsubishi Electric

We’re all users of a home, whether we own it, rent it, or just occupy it and ensuring we have a comfortable and warm home environment is now seen as an expectation of modern life.

But it hasn’t always been possible to take a warm home for granted and things haven’t always been as easy as they are today.

Since the days when early man first discovered fire and used it to keep the ‘cave’ warm and the wolves from the door, we have found ways to refine how we use that flame.

From the wood-burning days through to the industrialisation of the Victorian age and the introduction of coal, lighting a fire has been the main source of heat for the home.

renewable energy

Until the turn of the 20th Century therefore, this open flame in a home wasn’t just for aesthetics – or to make you feel Hygge it was the only option available and for those petticoat wearing Victorian women, the hazard of accidental death from fire was a very real threat.

In the 1930’s, we started to see the introduction of electric forms of heating, and the introduction of a gas network from the 1950’s and 60’s, saw this fuel start to dominate the world of domestic heating.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub

However, it wasn’t until the 1970’s and 80’s that we started to see an increase in central heating, predominantly using gas boilers and this still remains the standard for most.

But a reliance on fossil fuels; gas, coal and oil will soon need to become history because as we all know, we cannot continue like this.

So what does the future of our home heating and hot water look like?

As a heat pump manufacturer, you would expect us to promote air source systems but we are not the only ones saying it – The UK government has already recognised that heat pumps have a major role to play in keeping our homes warm and cosy well into the future.

By extracting and harvesting ‘free’ heat energy from the outdoor air, heat pumps are recognised as renewable and qualify for government incentives in the form of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

This is designed to offset the slightly higher capital costs of investing in renewables and is starting to have a significant impact on the traditional heating market as more people accept that they have to play their part.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub
Heat pumps are suitable from a variety of homes including pre-1930s, 1930-2010, 2010 – present and new build / self build properties.

At the moment, this is also taking the form of adding a heat pump to an existing heating system but as pressure on new housebuilders grows to clearly demonstrate they are delivering sustainable homes for the future, the government fully expects heat pumps to become the norm for home heating.

The other important factor to consider is that as the nation ‘greens’ production of energy with the increased use of wind, solar and even tidal energy production, then heat pumps become even greener.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub

So, the history of home heating has been an interesting journey so far but has relied predominantly on burning something to produce heat – a large part of which is often wasted up a chimney or flue.

In reality though, it’s quite scary to see how slow things have changed. It’s only now that the clock to a low carbon future really is ticking so we have to pull together to ensure we pick up the pace and move with the times.

https://thehub.mitsubishielectric.co.uk

The environmental lessons to be learnt from Dr Seuss

Article by Ellina Webb ~ Marketing Specialist at Mitsubishi Electric

To celebrate International Children’s Book Day it only seems appropriate to talk about a book with an overarching environmental theme.

The book in question is The Lorax by Dr Seuss which tells the story of the effects of pollution, deforestation and climate change after the forest of “Truffula trees” is chopped down.

Dr Seuss was a writer who was frequently inspired by political topics like the environmental movement, which allowed him to channel his negativity into magical and meaningful children’s literature – such as The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who and Oh! The Places You Will Go.

To some his underlying use of political themes might be viewed as controversial, especially in children’s storybooks, but as an adult reflecting on this story – which was a must-read of my primary school curriculum, the environmental messages are certain…and scary. Nevertheless, I’m glad that these books have subtly informed me and taught me that even though the world is full of issues, if you care, you can help to make them better.

To start, I’m going to give you a quick summary of the story:

A boy living in a polluted area of town seeks to discover what happened to the Lorax. To discover this he visits a man called Once-ler in the place where the “Grickle –grass grows”. While visiting Once-ler he hears the sad story of how Once-ler chopped down all the Truffula trees to fund his manufacturing business, destroying the home of the animals and polluting the air and water. This in turn drove the Lorax away and the Once-ler now lives alone and with deep regret of his selfish actions.

Re–reading the short story of the Lorax which was published in 1971, it’s clear what the important themes are that Dr Seuss has focused on and it’s sad that over 40 years later (and well over 20 years after the death of Theodor Seuss Geisel) these themes are still major issues that we face today.

So what are the themes and how are they still relevant today?

Deforestation

The major catalyst to the Lorax leaving was the cutting down of all the trees. The Lorax speaks for the trees “for the trees have no tongues” and unfortunately all his speaking did could not save them – especially as the innovation in Once-ler’s axe technology quadrupled his turnover of tree harvesting!

In real life and in today’s terms, deforestation is devastating to our planet and at the current rate of deforestation the world’s rainforests could completely vanish in a hundred years. The most common reasons behind deforestation are agriculture, logging and urban sprawl. The biggest impact deforestation has is on the 80% of the earth’s animals and plants that live there. While for climate change, no trees means dryer soils and less absorption of greenhouse gasses.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub
Deforestation is a primary threat to animals like the Orangutan

Poor respect for the environment

If you work for a large corporation, the term Corporate Social Responsibility might be something you have heard quite a lot about.  Respecting the environment from a business level has thankfully become quite important in the past few years, but for the average individual, is respecting the environment still a challenge that we need educating on? In 2015 The Telegraph reported on a government survey that showed how only 18% of Britons are “very concerned” about climate change. So does that show that they have no driver behind pro-activity respecting the environment – like Once-ler?

It’s a question we ask ourselves over on our Green Gateway Twitter page (@green_gateway) so feel free to discuss your thoughts with us on there.

The importance of plants

As previously mentioned, less trees means drier soils and less absorption of greenhouse gasses. But on an everyday scale, trees and plants are so much more than that. Plants, like in the story of the Lorax, provide shelter, food, oxygen and water purification. Without the Truffula trees the pollution from Once-ler’s factory destroys the quality of the air and the water, changing the landscape and driving the animals away. Beyond this, plants also provide medicine and store carbon dioxide, helping us reduce the impact of other environmental threats like the burning of fossil fuels.

The impact of pollution

Aside from the physical impact of pollution, the Lorax touches on the impact of pollution from over manufacturing “your machine chugs on, day and night without stop, making gluppity-glupp. Also schloppity-schlopp”. According to Conserve Energy Future, any form of pollution can be traced back to industrial practices. This can be seen in countries that face a rapid growth of industry. The contamination and effects of this are so vast that they would require an article in themselves to do them justice. But if Dr Seuss’ exploration of this theme is something you want to delve into further, the more in-depth Lorax film from 2012 is definitely worth watching.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub
Industrial pollution
Industrial waste is a large contributor to global pollution

So relating this back to International Children’s Book Day, I hope you appreciate why The Lorax is not just an enchantingly poetic story. It is also worthy of being in the realm of children’s classics, like his other work: Oh! The Places You Will Go, this has deep and touching meaning that will leave children and adults alike questioning their impact in the world we live in today.

Ellina Webb is a Marketing Specialist at Mitsubishi Electric

If you have any questions about this article or want to know more, please email us. We will contact the author and will get back to you as soon as we can.

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